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Category Archives: Jamaica

Wedding Talk: Civil vs. Symbolic

By: Beach Bum Marcie

When a couple considers taking the destination wedding plunge and gets married away, there are several factors that must be considered. Generally the first few steps include choosing a location and resort.  It is not as easy as it sounds and allowing a Beach Bum to take you through our step-by-step process will eliminate much of the stress that can come along with making that decision, simply by talking to one of us and filling out our online questionnaire.  If you are not currently working with a Certified Travel Concierge, MEET THE BUMS HERE and choose the Beach Bum for you! In deciding on a country and resort, couples must consider all of the pros and cons that come along with a legal ceremony (civil) or a symbolic ceremony (non-legal). Please note, couples can LEGALLY tie the knot in ANY country but each country’s requirements and applicable fees must be factored into the decision, so there is a level of comfort prior to heading south of the border for the big day!

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Beach Bum Vacation’s Destination Wedding Specialists can guide and support you through the unique requirements of each country and match you up with a country and resort that meets your expectations for the perfect ceremony and fits what you are looking for based on the amount of time you wish to spend in a country before you are husband and wife, as well as, help you decide if having a symbolic ceremony is for you versus a legal ceremony. The Beach Bums often are asked “What is the difference between a Civil and Symbolic Wedding in another country?” It’s a great question!  The short answer is: “A CIVIL ceremony is legal and recognized in the United States, as well as, the country in which you marry, and SYMBOLIC is not recognized.”

Destination Wedding Couples have to decide for themselves if it is important to them to be LEGALLY married on their wedding day or if they are OK with possibly getting married at home privately and quietly in their church or with the Justice of the Peace, and then just having a ceremony on their chosen anniversary date at the resort. No one will be the wiser, which is why it’s good to consider both options, especially for Mexico and Punta Cana and other countries where the hoopla for legalized ceremonies can overshadow the fun of planning!  However, in countries like Antigua, Jamaica, Bahamas, and St. Lucia, it is so simple to be legally wed, there is no reason to get married at home first.

A symbolic ceremony allows the couple to experience their wedding just as they would if they were being married civilly/legally, and most couples do not share with their guests that they are having a symbolic ceremony; because to them, it is the OFFICIAL ceremony and as real to them as it would be if were legal.  This will be the day they celebrate as their wedding anniversary regardless of when they “legally” tie the knot at home.  There is a lot to be said for choosing this avenue to get married, especially when documents must be translated (Mexico and Punta Cana), blood tests are required (Mexico) and it’s difficult to confirm a local judge (Punta Cana).  Many couples also have their own priest, minister, rabbi or friend perform the ceremony, write their own vows and have a lot more flexibility to customize their ceremony without the legal vows/language instituted by the country.  In addition, residency requirements tend to be less strict allowing for less time between the arrival date into the country and their wedding. Couples just need to arrive in time to finalize wedding details, instead of meeting residency requirements.  This makes for a more relaxing overall wedding experience.

Wondering what kind of wedding ceremony is best for you?  Just ask your Beach Bum!  Knowing a country’s legal procedures is part of the free services we provide and we want to ensure you have everything at your fingertips to make the best decision for you! The Beach Bums are here to guide and support you all the way down the sandy aisle!

Planning the Ultimate Family Vacation: Part 2

By: Beach Bum Lisa

In Planning the Ultimate Family Vacation: Part 1 we shared steps 1-4. Beach Bum Lisa breaks it down step by step and walks you through the rest of the journey.

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Step 5 – Evaluating Recommendations

Your Beach Bum will provide 3 top recommendations based on your wants and needs. You will want to look at your options based on their quality, value, inclusions, experiences they offer, and then of course, budget. Do not just look at the number, as you may not be comparing apples with apples. All- inclusive resorts are not created equal. Many resorts offer so many amenities: Sesame Street characters, surf simulators, water slides, game rooms, catamaran cruises, toys, teen clubs, kids clubs, monitors, 24 hour room service, changing tables, and more! It is so much fun to look through this information and think of the possibilities! I know when I chose the resort for my personal family vacation, we made sure to think about our kids’ ages AND what we, as parents, wanted. This is a vacation for the entire family, not just the kids.

Look for quality inclusions. The resort may offer an amenity, but is it good? Look for trusted brands such as: Fisher Price, Crayola, National Geographic, Sesame Street, Golf pros, Nike, Xbox, and the list goes on! For younger kids meeting the Sesame Street characters is an incredible experience. My kids are super pumped for our next vacation to Beaches Resorts, because Super Grover is going to be there!

If you have three children, be prepared that not all hotels will accommodate you in one room. I know this can be quite frustrating. However, trust your Beach Bum to recommend the best resort/room scenario for your family.  You may have to book at  least two rooms or you may have to get a higher room category. Note that even if you book two rooms, you can reconfigure your sleeping arrangements however you would like while are on property.  You’ve heard it before- size does matter. Take a close look at the room size. A common mistake families make is thinking they won’t spend any time in the room. YES YOU WILL! So unless you want to be living on top of each other, pay attention to size and what your Beach Bum recommends. The extra money is worth its weight in gold.

Budget-wise, all inclusive is the way to go. All inclusive resorts have so many activities and amenities included that make it the best value. My best advice is to spend your money where your priorities are. If you want to do a lot of activities; pick a resort that has a lot of inclusions and is located in an area where you can easily get off the resort and experience local culture, tours and excursions. If you know your kids will be spending their time at the beach; pick the hotel with the great beach and the other amenities will just be bonuses.

Step 6 –  Booking your vacation

Your Beach Bum will walk you through the stress-free process and send over a secure reservation link for you to submit. Your Beach Bum Travel Concierge will receive the information, put a reservation on hold, and then call or email you to get your approval on the itinerary/price before a deposit is charged. A low deposit is required upfront, making it easy to secure your vacation, and final payment is usually duel 45 days prior to departure! Beats paying everything up front!

Step 7 – Preparing for the trip

This is equally as exciting as planning, but can be stressful as well. Refer to Part 1 for ideas on ways to prepare for the trip with little ones. Plan when you are going to tell the kids if you haven’t already. This is like Christmas for you. I was so anxious to tell my kids; I could barely sleep the night before.

The best advice for preparing to travel is to plan with the same philosophy as any other trip: anything can happen. Flexibility is key. Moms probably know what I’m talking about.  Should you take pajamas for every night? Probably not, but you need more than one.  Should you take more than 1 swim suit? Yes, as one will inevitably end up destroyed somehow. Ladies, on a family vacation try not to bring a ton of shoes. These will weigh you down, and your kids will do that enough! 😉  Make sure to check airline websites for baggage fees. This is the place to check for most up-to-date information. Rolling clothes helps save space as opposed to folding them.  Younger kids often like to travel with their own bag.  I encourage you to let them do this as it is exciting to have your own bag. Make sure they know up front though that the bag is their responsibility.  Do you need a medicine cabinet in your suitcase? No, but some helps. What is your favorite tip when preparing for a family vacation? Leave a comment below and be entered to win a Cheeseburger in Paradise gift card. We will randomly select a winner on April 5th! 

Step 8: Traveling

Relax and enjoy! Let go of strict rules and normal inhibitions and just go with it! If you are going to the Caribbean and/or Mexico, this is the mecca for ultimate chill so take advantage! Beach Bum Lisa tip: I do recommend keeping routines for little ones though. If they normally take an afternoon nap, try to stick with it. But don’t force it to be at the same time and be prepared for them not to sleep. That quiet time still helps. Younger children do better with routine, especially on vacation when things are already different. Part 1 has some great tips to refer back on. Prepare your kids about what’s to come. Let your kids know that after you land at the airport, you will have to be transferred to the hotel. Otherwise they will expect the pool to be outside the airport. 🙂

This vacation is an opportunity to reconnect as a family. Don’t just go to the pool every day. Converse with each other and enjoy activities together. Create memories!  I can guarantee that teens will remember climbing a waterfall or swimming with dolphins but they may not remember lying out by the pool.  Don’t get me wrong, make time to get your Vitamin D on! Don’t be afraid to send your kids to the kids’ club. They have wonderful activities and staff for all ages: little ones on up to teens, and it will give parents a chance to be together. Take pictures. Have your kids take pictures. It’s so fun to look at the world through their eyes. We bought our kids digital cameras before we left. My son’s camera was full of pictures of the room and the view from the room. He still talks about sleeping in the bed that folded up (pull out sofa). I’m so excited for you! Family vacations are so much fun!  Now I’m ready for my own! We’re going to Beaches Turks & Caicos next, and I can’t wait!! Super Grover, here we come!

Now you’re fully prepared to plan your Beach Bum Vacation, and we’re here to guide you all the way to the beach! Get in contact with your favorite Beach Bum today!  Don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win! What is your favorite tip when preparing for a family vacation?

Top 5 Jamaican Adventures!

March 17th, 2012 | By sarah | Posted in Adventures, Excursions, Jamaica, Tours | Leave a comment

By: Beach Bum Mindy

The beautiful, lush island of Jamaica holds a very special place in our Beach Bum hearts. Whether you are traveling for romance, relaxation, or adventure, Jamaica has something for everyone. The island is home to warm people with bright smiles, stunning beaches, turquoise water, and luxurious resorts. Even more though, they have some amazing must-see spots and thrilling adventures that you have to experience firsthand! Take note of Beach Bum Vacation’s Top 5 Jamaican Adventures. Ya mon!

Don’t worry we have personally experienced these adventures and they are very safe and tons of fun. You’ll make memories that last a lifetime! For all organized tours and excursions Beach Bum Vacation recommends Island Routes as they are the #1 Caribbean Adventure Tour company. Your favorite Beach Bum can even pre-book these tours and excursions for you when you plan your vacation! We make it stress-free for you, so you can spend more time enjoying your vacation!

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Dunn’s River Falls – Located just outside of Ocho Rios on the northern side of Jamaica. With a tour guide you can climb up this 600 ft. high Jamaican attraction. There are some great locations for photos and options to swim while climbing up Dunn’s River Falls.  Trivia: This location was used in the 1988 Tom Cruise Film “Cocktail” and the first James Bond Film in 1962.

Y.S. Falls Offers multiple activities in one location, such as natural spring pools, climbing waterfalls and tubing down the Black River. Located on the south side of Jamaica this natural attraction is an all day experience.  This waterfall is less “touristy” than Dunn’s and offers a more one-on-one experience with the tour guide.

Zipline Canopy –  Gliding through the mountains at up to 35 mph over the trees propelled hundreds of feet in the air… Now that is an adventure! One you can’t afford to miss! Zip lining or Canopy tours are located in various areas of the island. The Beach Bums are experts at Zip lining and love the adrenaline rush! It’s exhilarating!

Rick’s Café : Located in Negril  for more than 30 years people have come to Negril for the magnificent 7 mile beach and sunsets but they don’t expect to fall in love with Rick’s Café. This is a place to do it all… eat, drink, cliff dive, take in a beautiful sunset, listen to live music…it’s a Jamaican Tradition. They have jumps up to 35 feet for the ultimate thrill seeker! You have to check it out if you are staying in the Negril area.

Border Jerk: Jamaican people are warm and friendly, the beaches and the Rum are truly out of this world, but you can’t travel to this flavorful island and not enjoy Jerk Chicken. Border Jerk is Beach Bum Vacation’s favorite spot on the island for authentic Jamaican cuisine. Located through the mountains between Montego Bay and Westmoreland, we frequent this food stand as often as possible! I am sure they know us by name! If you don’t come across Border Jerk during your travels  make sure to experience another local stand of Jerk Chicken & Pork… you won’t be sorry!

As these 5 adventures and must-see spots are spread throughout the island you might not be able to experience all 5 in one visit, but no worries, mon, just another reason to return to the spectacular island of Jamaica! Contact your favorite Beach Bum and they’ll hook you up! Once You Go, You Know! 

Fun Family Vacation: The Gookins in Jamaica, Mon!

Beach Bum Carey’s clients just returned from an amazing family getaway in sunny Negril! The Gookins reached out to Beach Bum Vacation after becoming certified SCUBA divers. Since they’re landlocked in the Midwest, they were very excited to head down to the Caribbean and into the open water to put their diving skills to the test!

After conducting their own research and consulting with Carey, the family decided the very best fit for their first diving experience was the tropical island of Jamaica, on the beautiful west coast. The Gookins stayed on Negril’s 7 Mile Beach at Beaches Sandy Bay, a perfect resort for a family vacation with great bang-for-your-buck. The main attraction to Beaches Resorts was the amazing inclusions — certified divers can enjoy SCUBA every day from state-of-the-art Newton dive boats at no additional cost. Since diving can be a very expensive hobby, with a dive costing around $100 per person or more, this definitely gave the family more for their money! Check out some of the family’s photos from their adventures under the sea, where they encountered ship wrecks, a variety of fish, wild dolphins, turtles and moray eels.

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When they weren’t diving, Brad, Cassandra, Donavin & Alex enjoyed the other watersports included at Beaches, like snorkeling, kayaking &  glass bottom boat rides. The family also visited nearby Beaches Negril to enjoy the resort’s awesome waterpark and delicious dining options!

Next year, the family is upping the ante, traveling to a world-renowned diving locale, Turks & Caicos! Again, they’ll get to enjoy diving in crystal clear Caribbean waters at no additional cost while staying at Beaches Turks & Caicos. Plus, as past guests of Beaches Resorts, they are now members of Sandals Select and get some great added perks! We can’t wait to hear all about their next Beach Bum Vacation! 🙂

 

Planning The Ultimate Family Vacation: Part 1

By: Beach Bum Lisa

Are you packed & ready to go? We hope so because it’s time to go on a little journey with the Beach Bums – today, we’re guiding your family all the way to the beach!

No matter what, a family vacation done right, will bring you closer together and create memories that will last a lifetime. Experiencing a destination through the eyes of your children is absolutely amazing. For younger children, all the little things like the hotel’s mini toiletries and beverage service on an airplane are so cool. For grade school kids, it is a combination of awe-inspiring moments and lots of energy! Be prepared to keep them busy! Teens are definitely the hardest to please, but they still bring a unique perspective to the table. You might have to try a little harder to impress them, but when they are “wowed,” the relationship that you share with each other is strengthened by having experienced that moment together. 

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Step 1 – Making the decision to go

This is harder than it sounds. But make the commitment to go no matter what. Things may come up, timing may not be right but pick the best week or long weekend and put it on your calendar.  By writing it down, you are making the commitment. This may seem silly but once you make the commitment to go it actually becomes a reality and the decision turns into where do we go? Stress-free tip: make one decision at a time to keep from getting overwhelmed.

Do you tell the kids at this point or should you wait? You have the choice to include the children in on the planning or not. If you have toddlers or young grade school children, Beach Bum Vacation recommends not including them on the initial planning. For pre-teens and teens it can be beneficial to include them on the planning at this point. Showing them that you value their opinion will go a long way. Letting them in on the family decision making process is a big responsibility.  Whatever you do, approach them in discussion mode without any distractions. By making it a real conversation, they realize the importance of it. By approaching them in this manner, your family bonding time has already begun – what a great way to connect with your kids!

Step 2 – Deciding what you’d like to experience

Set aside time for a family discussion to envision WHAT YOU WANT.  Stress-free tip: Note that I did not say where you want to go yet. Places may come up as you are having this initial discussion, because if what you want is a theme park with mouse ears, then obviously that narrows down places pretty quickly.  But the initial discussion should be what you want to do/what you like to do. All points of view should be taken into consideration here. If you have included your children, you must include them in the rest of the planning process as well. (Side note, by including older children there is less of a chance they will say they are bored. There is a greater chance that they will absolutely find the vacation thrilling because they helped make it happen.)  Write these thoughts down – the experience you envision having while on vacation, the activities each family member wants to do, etc. No budget thinking yet. Don’t worry, that will come. Even better than writing them down is typing them so your Beach Bum can see your initial thoughts. At the end of this discussion, highlight commonalities between each other. Mom wants to lay out. Dad and Ben want to surf in the ocean. Okay well there you go – you know you want to go somewhere tropical and warm.

Step 3 – Initial budget planning

After this discussion, parents should start thinking about budget.  The children do not have to be included in this discussion, but they should be told that this discussion is going on so they remember that it is not free. Kids tend to think that. Everything is all inclusive to them! 🙂 If you are going to fly somewhere, airfare is expensive.  If you want the Caribbean or Mexico, it will cost you approximately $400 – $1000 per person for flights.  This airfare greatly ranges for what city you are flying out of, what island and destination you are going to, but it’s good to keep this in the back of your mind so you know initially your base cost is going to be this much without even including your resort stay.

Step 4 – Contact your Beach Bum  

One of Beach Bum Vacation’s specialties is family vacations. We go on them, we experience them, we know the destinations and the resorts, and more importantly we also know the staff who work at the resorts, ensuring your vacation is as seamless as possible. Yes, this is the “hard” part about our job – our tropical travels. 🙂 But we actually take it much more seriously than one might think. Of course we have a great time while we’re there (that’s just what Beach Bums do), but we spend most of our time meeting with resort management, touring properties, and asking questions with our clients’ point of view in mind. This makes us a unique travel agency as we are not just looking at a brochure saying “Hmmm….this looks like a great place.”

Your Beach Bum will interview you and ask you the right questions to determine what you want out of your vacation. Share your initial thoughts with them. We want to know if you have any goals for this trip: to reconnect, to just spend time together that you don’t get at home, to celebrate a special occasion, etc.

Beach Bums are honest… sometimes brutally honest. We want you to know what you are getting and the pros & cons of each destination/resort. The last thing you want on your vacation are surprises of the unpleasant variety, and we do our best to not let that happen. We want you to know that not everywhere looks as great as it does in those Photoshopped or airbrushed photos online. If the beach is great, then we’ll tell you. If it’s not, then we’ll tell you that too. We do not match you up with a resort that we think is not worth it. No matter what your budget is, we’ll find the best match for you. We are extremely picky because our clients are our extended Beach Bum family, and we want to make sure they are treated well! After all, it is a reflection on us as well!  We want to ensure your hard-earned money and precious vacation time is well spent. It’s important to us to create a lifelong relationship with you; sending you on amazing Beach Bum Vacations year after year!

Planning a vacation takes time, but when you partner with a Beach Bum it is time spent efficiently and effectively. We are working behind the scenes for you; saving you hours upon hours of research and taking the guesswork out of planning your vacation. We vow to always lead you down the best path, taking all of your wants and wishes into consideration and pointing out the pros and cons to you. Our honesty is what you will get. Remember YOUR Beach Bum has been to the destinations – we are the experts.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series – steps 5 through 8! We’re guiding you all the way to the beach!

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